The first piece of new, original music from the recently reunited Replacements may not be what fans expected from the snotty kings of college rock, but "Poke Me In My Cage" is a holiday gift nonetheless: A 24-minute improvised jazz track, which the band uploaded to Soundcloud last week with little fanfare.
Written by Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson, "Poke Me In My Cage" was recorded at Wooly Mammoth Sound in Waltham, Massachusetts in October. The track features plenty of out-there guitar noodling, with Westerberg letting loose over relentless, scattershot drumming from Josh Freese, a session vet who's now the band's third drummer.
Around the 16-minute mark, "Poke Me In My Cage" recalls the band's classic sound and attitude, when Westerberg starts snarling about porcupine piss and Ecclesiastes before repeating the song's title.
As Consequence of Sounds points out, "Poke Me in My Cage" was unearthed by the Boston-based blog, Bradley's Almanac, and was posted on December 17th, which would have been the 55th birthday of Replacements' co-founder and lead guitarist, Bob Stinson, who died in 1995 (it is unclear if the song is an official tribute).
Since announcing their reunion in 2012, the Replacements have played numerous high-profile festival gigs and released a covers EP, Songs for Slim, which helped raise money for former guitarist Slim Dunlap, who was paralyzed by a stroke. The band has been teasing a new album as well, with Westerberg telling Rolling Stone in September he's got a few potential tracks already written, including one song called "Are You in It for the Money?"
And while Westerberg did admit there were financial reasons behind the 'Mats reunion, he was happy to say it helped him and Stinson rekindle their friendship: "We'll call each other up when things go south, because we know we can get a laugh out of each other," Westerberg said. "How many people do you know that you can call up and get a guaranteed gut-wrenching laugh? Sometimes it's worth all the money and kissing and hugging in the world."